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Macrodosing vs. Microdosing: The Key Differences

In this article, we will delve into the details of macrodosing and microdosing, highlighting their distinctions, benefits, and important considerations.

Table of Contents

In the realm of psychedelics, both therapeutic and recreational use has gained significant attention in recent years, sparking what is often referred to as the “psychedelic renaissance.” Within this context, two prominent approaches stand out: macrodosing and microdosing. Although both involve the consumption of psychedelics, they differ in dosage, intended purpose, and effects.

When comparing macrodosing and microdosing, several distinguishing factors come into play. The most apparent contrast lies in the dosage, as microdosing involves the consumption of very small amounts, while macrodosing represents the traditional method of consuming larger doses.

It’s crucial to note that the disparity in dosage between these two approaches leads to distinctly different experiences. Furthermore, the outcomes of these two methods also tend to vary significantly.

What is Macrodosing?

Macrodosing involves the consumption of a substantial dose of psychedelics, such as LSD or psilocybin mushrooms. This approach entails taking a dose that leads to noticeable and often intense effects, resulting in altered perceptions, heightened sensory experiences, and deep introspection. People typically engage in macrodosing for recreational purposes or to achieve significant therapeutic breakthroughs.

The experience of macrodosing can bring about intense hallucinations, emotional shifts, and profound introspective journeys. It is particularly sought after by individuals seeking profound insights, spiritual experiences, or enhanced creativity. However, due to its potent effects, macrodosing is not recommended for everyone, and caution must be exercised before considering this approach.

What is Microdosing?

In contrast, microdosing involves the consumption of sub-perceptual doses of psychedelics. Unlike macrodosing, which produces profound and often overwhelming effects, microdosing aims for subtle enhancements without significant perceptual alterations. Typically, a microdose constitutes around one-tenth to one-twentieth of a typical macrodose.

Microdosing is usually conducted over an extended period, with individuals taking regular, small doses of psychedelics. The effects of microdosing are often described as a gentle shift in perception, improved mood, increased focus, and enhanced creativity. It is believed to hold the potential to enhance cognitive function, alleviate symptoms of anxiety or depression, and promote overall well-being.

microdosing vs macrodosing

Macrodosing vs. Microdosing: Understanding The Dosages

Macrodosing brings about significant shifts in perception, cognition, and emotions, encompassing a dosage range from the threshold dose, where perceptual changes become noticeable, to the heroic dose, which may lead to effects like ego death.

On the other hand, a microdose is typically described as a fraction of a standard recreational dose of a substance, ranging from one-tenth to one-twentieth. While microdosing commonly involves classic psychedelics like LSD, DMT, psilocybin mushrooms, and mescaline, it’s also possible to microdose non-classic psychedelics like 4-AcO-DMT, as well as other psychoactive drugs such as cannabis and MDMA.

The main aim of a microdose is to stay below the threshold of perception, ensuring that it doesn’t induce visual distortions or the observation of geometric patterns, whether one’s eyes are open or closed. Due to its minimal dosage, a microdose is not expected to trigger other commonly associated psychedelic effects, such as mystical experiences or intense emotional states.

Micro vs Macro: Dosing Differs

Defining the precise boundary between macrodosing and microdosing poses a significant challenge. When do perceptual effects truly manifest? How do we distinguish between aesthetic enhancement (where the world appears more pleasant and vibrant on a microdose) and actual perceptual distortions? Is the perception of heightened brightness and colors indicative of a dosage exceeding the limits of microdosing? Unfortunately, these inquiries lack simple answers.

Moreover, it’s crucial to acknowledge that the characterization of a microdose can vary among individuals. This variation stems from inherent differences in sensitivity to psychedelic substances.

The dosage required for an individual to achieve the desired effects from microdosing can vary significantly based on their sensitivity to these compounds. A highly sensitive individual may find that they need to consume a much smaller dose compared to someone else. Conversely, what might be considered an optimal microdose for one person could potentially surpass the threshold dose for another.

While macrodosing and microdosing can be conceptually distinguished, in practice, the task becomes considerably more intricate and nuanced.

Macrodosing vs. Microdosing: The Different Effects

When comparing macrodosing and microdosing, one crucial factor to consider is the unique range of experiences that accompanies each approach.

Effects Of Macrodosing

The magnitude and influence of the subjective effects of macrodosing surpass those experienced with microdosing.

Visual Effects

  • Distorted depth perception: A shift in the sense of depth and distance between objects, leading to a surreal and otherworldly experience.

  • Shifting colors: Colors appearing to change or fluctuate, creating a mesmerizing and dynamic visual landscape that dances before one’s eyes.

  • Tracers: Trails or afterimages left by moving objects, leaving a trail of vibrant and trailing echoes in their wake.

  • Enhanced colors: Perception of intensified and vivid hues in the visual field, immersing the individual in a vibrant tapestry of colors that seem to come alive.

  • Geometric hallucinations: Visual perception of intricate and complex geometric patterns, transforming the surroundings into a kaleidoscope of ever-shifting shapes and forms.

  • Morphing of objects: Objects appearing to change shape, size, or form, as if the boundaries between reality and illusion are fluid and malleable.

These captivating effects contribute to the profoundly unique and immersive experiences often associated with psychedelic use, taking individuals on a captivating journey through the depths of their consciousness and the wonders of the mind.

Auditory Effects


  • Heightened perception or enhanced sensory experiences, where the senses become more attuned to the surrounding world.

  • Amplified effects or increased intensification, as the impact of the psychedelic compounds becomes more pronounced.

  • Augmentation of cognitive functions, leading to enhanced mental processes and expanded thinking capabilities.


  • Changes in the perception of reality or sensory input, where the individual experiences a shift in how they perceive the world around them.

  • Modification of thought patterns or cognitive processes, resulting in new and different ways of thinking and processing information.

  • Distorted sense of time or space, as the individual’s perception of the passage of time and the spatial relationships between objects may be altered.


When under the influence of psychedelics, individuals may experience:

  • Perceptual experiences devoid of external stimuli, where the mind generates vivid sensations independently.

  • Visual, auditory, or sensory illusions, which can create a captivating and immersive world of altered perceptions.

  • Altered states of consciousness or imagined sensations, taking individuals on a profound journey through the realms of their mind and imagination.

Cognitive Effects

1. Introspection:

  • Enhanced self-reflection and introspective thinking.

  • Heightened awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, and inner experiences.

2. Delusion:

  • Altered beliefs or perceptions, often temporary and non-reality-based.

  • Distorted interpretations of oneself, others, or the surrounding environment.

3. Increased music appreciation:

  • Heightened enjoyment and emotional connection to music.

  • Enhanced perception of musical nuances and subtleties.

4. Increased sense of humor and laughter:

  • Heightened amusement and tendency to find things funny.

  • More frequent laughter and elevated appreciation of humor.

5. Thought acceleration:

  • Faster thinking processes and mental agility.

  • Quick generation and flow of thoughts and ideas.

6. Time distortion:

  • Altered perception of time passage, either sped up or slowed down.

  • Distorted sense of time intervals and duration.

Emotional Effects

Positive Emotions:

  • Euphoria: Delight in experiencing intense feelings of happiness and elation that elevate the spirit and fill one’s being with sheer joy.

  • Bliss: Bask in the serenity of a profound state of joy and contentment, where the heart overflows with a sense of utter fulfillment and inner peace.

  • Joy: Embrace the simple pleasures of life, savoring genuine delight and pleasure that brings a radiant smile to the face and a warm glow to the soul.

Empathy and Compassion:

  • Empathy: Experience a heightened ability to understand and share the feelings of others, forging a strong emotional connection that fosters understanding and support.

  • Compassion: Cultivate deep concern and care for the well-being of others, embracing a selfless desire to alleviate their suffering and promote their happiness and welfare.

Negative Emotions:

  • Anxiety: Experience an unsettling sense of unease or apprehension, often accompanied by heightened nervousness and restlessness.

  • Fear: Encounter a distinct feeling of being afraid or threatened, which triggers the body’s natural fight-or-flight response.

  • Panic: Feel an overwhelming and uncontrollable sense of fear or terror, leading to a sudden surge of intense anxiety and physical sensations like rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath.

Profound Experiences:

  • Ego Dissolution: The profound dissolution or transcendence of the usual sense of self, resulting in a profound and often transformative experience.

  • Transcendence of Time and Space: The remarkable sensation of surpassing conventional notions of time and space, leading to a sense of boundlessness and interconnectedness with the universe.

  • Connection to the Sacred: A profound encounter with the holy, sacred, or divine, evoking a sense of reverence and spiritual significance.

  • Unity and Interconnectedness: Overwhelming feelings of unity and interconnectedness with all things, fostering a profound sense of oneness with the cosmos.

  • Ineffability: The inherent difficulty in expressing or describing the experience in words, as it often transcends ordinary language and eludes precise description.

Macrodosing Benefits:

The potential benefits of macrodosing magic mushrooms encompass various areas, ranging from mental and emotional well-being to personal growth and spiritual connection. These benefits may include:

  • Improvement or Recovery from Mental Health Conditions: Psychedelics have shown promise in helping individuals with conditions such as depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, alcoholism, and drug addiction find relief and recovery.

  • Enhanced Open-Mindedness and Receptiveness: The psychedelic journey often leads to increased openness to new ideas and perspectives, fostering a more receptive and adaptable mindset.

  • Heightened Connection with Nature: Many individuals report a deepened appreciation and connection to nature, experiencing a profound sense of nature-relatedness.

  • Overcoming the Fear of Death: Psychedelic experiences may help individuals confront and reduce the fear of death, leading to greater acceptance and peace.

  • Strengthened Sense of Purpose and Meaning: The journey within can bring about a clearer sense of purpose and meaning in life, guiding individuals towards a more fulfilling path.

  • Increased Authenticity: Participants often find themselves expressing their true selves more authentically, leading to greater self-awareness and acceptance.

  • Access to Positive Emotions: Psychedelics can evoke a wide range of positive emotions, including joy, gratitude, awe, and compassion, fostering emotional growth and well-being.

  • Integration into Daily Life: The psychedelic experience may inspire individuals to integrate its insights into their daily lives, potentially through practices like meditation, leading to a more spiritual lifestyle.

  • Motivation for Positive Changes: Psychedelic journeys can spark motivation and inspiration to make significant changes in various aspects of life, including relationships, career, hobbies, personal projects, goals, diet, and habits.

It is essential to note that individual experiences with psychedelics can vary significantly, and their effects should be approached with respect, responsible use, and guidance when needed.


Effects Of Microdosing

The Potential Benefits of Microdosing:

While microdosing may not elicit the typical psychedelic experiences, it shows promise for various other effects and benefits. However, the current evidence base concerning the actual advantages of microdosing remains inconclusive.

A study conducted by Imperial College London in 2021 suggested that the observed benefits of microdosing could be attributed to the placebo effect. However, several other placebo-controlled studies have indicated that microdoses of LSD do have genuine effects beyond placebo.

Furthermore, research has revealed that individuals who engage in microdosing tend to exhibit higher scores on certain well-being and cognition assessments compared to those who do not microdose. These findings imply the potential for positive impacts on mental and cognitive functioning associated with microdosing.

Addressing the Limitations of Microdosing Studies:

It is crucial to recognize that studies based solely on surveys do not establish a causal relationship between microdosing and the reported differences. There may be confounding factors involved, such as individuals with better mental health being more inclined to microdose, or an unidentified common cause that both promotes microdosing and enhances creativity. Therefore, further research is needed to better understand the true cause and effect relationship in this context.

Benefits of Microdosing Magic Mushrooms:

Microdosing shrooms has garnered reports of various positive effects among individuals, providing a captivating array of potential benefits. These reported advantages include:

  • Heightened energy levels, offering a sense of revitalization and vigor to tackle daily tasks with renewed enthusiasm.

  • Improved mood, creating a more positive and uplifted emotional state, fostering a greater sense of well-being.

  • Reductions in symptoms of depression, anxiety, and rumination, potentially offering relief and a brighter outlook on life.

  • Increased concentration and focus, allowing for enhanced cognitive abilities and improved attention to detail.

  • Enhanced productivity, potentially leading to increased efficiency and effectiveness in various endeavors.

  • Positive impacts on relationships, fostering improved communication and a deeper connection with others.

  • Strengthened connection to self, promoting self-awareness and a greater understanding of one’s emotions and inner world.

  • Boosted creativity, unlocking new realms of imagination and inspiration, encouraging artistic expression and problem-solving.

  • Positive influence on lifestyle habits, potentially leading to the adoption of healthier practices and a more balanced lifestyle.

These potential benefits have been associated with the practice of microdosing magic mushrooms by individuals who have explored this intriguing approach.

psilocybin effects

Macrodosing vs. Microdosing: What The Science Says

The evidence supporting the effectiveness of microdosing differs from that of macrodosing, as mentioned earlier.

While there are numerous compelling anecdotal reports from microdosers highlighting the transformative effects of tiny doses of psychedelics on their mental health, relationships, and personal growth, it remains uncertain to what extent these benefits are influenced by the placebo effect.

In contrast, macrodosing has been the subject of several rigorous placebo-controlled studies, demonstrating significant therapeutic benefits. Now, let’s delve into some of the most noteworthy studies examining both microdosing and macrodosing.

Research On Macrodosing

Extensive research on the therapeutic application of high doses of psychedelics, combined with psychotherapy, has yielded promising outcomes in various critical areas.

Psilocybin-assisted therapy, for instance, has demonstrated effectiveness in treating major depression, treatment-resistant depression, end-of-life anxiety, PTSD, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and smoking addiction. Beyond these benefits, it facilitates emotional connection and can lead to profoundly meaningful and mystical experiences.

In the case of Ibogaine, it has proven effective in supporting individuals on their journey to recovery from stimulant, opiate, and alcohol addiction, while significantly reducing withdrawal symptoms.

Ketamine treatment, on the other hand, has shown success in addressing major depression, treatment-resistant depression, suicidality, and treatment-resistant PTSD.

MDMA therapy has also shown positive results in helping patients dealing with PTSD, social anxiety, alcoholism, and relationship difficulties.

Ayahuasca has displayed potential in improving symptoms of depression and PTSD, as well as providing support in addiction recovery.

These groundbreaking findings underscore the potential of integrating psychedelics with therapy to effectively address a range of mental health conditions and promote healing and overall well-being.

Research On Microdosing

The effectiveness of microdosing has undergone scrutiny through double-blind randomized controlled trials (RCTs), which are considered the gold standard in research. These studies have yielded significant insights:

  • In a 2020 study from the Journal of Psychopharmacology, researchers found that a microdose of LSD could lead to a reduction in people’s perception of pain.

  • According to a 2020 study published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology, microdoses have the potential to enhance positive mood, friendliness, and attention. However, it is worth noting that increased confusion and anxiety may also occur.

  • A 2019 study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry revealed that microdoses of LSD produced subjective effects that were dependent on the dose. However, these microdoses did not significantly impact working memory or cognitive functioning. Surprisingly, creativity was found to be impaired.

The insights gained from these findings shed valuable light on the effects of microdosing and offer essential considerations regarding its potential benefits.

It is worth noting that some research findings suggest that doses of 20 micrograms (mcg) of LSD can produce effects beyond what is typically considered a microdose. For many individuals seeking a microdosing experience, this dosage may be considered too high.

Furthermore, in addition to studies that utilize placebo controls, other research also highlights the potential benefits of microdosing:

  • A 2021 study in Psychopharmacology revealed that microdosers tend to exhibit higher scores in measures of wisdom, open-mindedness, creativity, and lower scores in measures of unhealthy beliefs and negative emotions, when compared to non-microdosers.

  • Findings from a 2019 study in PLOS One suggest that microdosing can contribute to a reduction in depression and mind wandering, while simultaneously increasing levels of neuroticism.

  • According to a 2021 study published in Scientific Reports, adults who engage in microdosing report lower levels of anxiety and depression compared to non-microdosers.

These additional studies provide valuable insights into the potential benefits associated with microdosing, broadening our understanding of its effects on various aspects of mental well-being.

Macrodoses And Microdoses Are Taken In Different Contexts

Microdosing and macrodosing present crucial distinctions, particularly in the contexts in which these doses are taken.

When microdosing, the profound alteration of your mind is minimal, allowing you to seamlessly carry on with your daily activities. It should not hinder your ability to function, work, or interact with others.

Conversely, choosing a macrodose requires acknowledging that your ability to work or engage in conversations may be significantly impacted. While a threshold or light dose of a psychedelic may enable you to perform everyday tasks without revealing your altered state, higher doses are more likely to draw your focus solely to the psychedelic effects.

Macrodoses are often consumed in various contexts, influenced by factors such as dosage and personal preferences. For instance, a low dose might be suitable for engaging in creative activities, while a heroic dose would be better suited for profound introspection.

By exploring the depths of macrodosing versus microdosing, you gain a clearer understanding of the purposes these distinct dosages can serve and the current scientific understanding of their effectiveness.

If your goal in using psychedelics is to facilitate significant improvements in your mental health, macrodosing in a supportive setting would be the more dependable choice.

When to Choose Macrodosing

Macrodosing is a deliberate choice made for specific situations or with particular objectives in mind. For some individuals, it becomes a means to explore the profound depths of consciousness, seeking transformative insights and engaging in spiritual experiences. This journey can challenge perspectives and contribute to personal growth. Additionally, macrodosing appeals to those seeking intense psychedelic encounters for recreational purposes.

However, it is of utmost importance to approach macrodosing responsibly. It should be undertaken in a safe and controlled environment with proper preparation and support. It is not recommended for individuals with a history of mental health issues or those who are not adequately prepared for the potentially intense effects. Ensuring a thoughtful and cautious approach to macrodosing is essential to mitigate any potential risks and enhance the potential benefits of the experience.

When to Choose Microdosing

Microdosing offers a suitable option for individuals seeking subtle enhancements in their day-to-day lives. It proves beneficial for those aiming to improve focus, boost creativity, alleviate mild anxiety or depression, or enhance overall well-being. The practice often involves integrating regular small doses into one’s routine over an extended period.

Particularly helpful for professionals, artists, or individuals seeking cognitive enhancements without significant alterations in perception, microdosing provides a way to tap into its potential benefits. However, it is essential to recognize that microdosing should not be perceived as a one-size-fits-all solution, as its effects may vary between individuals. Consulting with a healthcare professional before incorporating microdosing into one’s routine is always advisable to ensure a safe and informed approach.


To sum up, macrodosing and microdosing stand as two distinct approaches to the use of psychedelics. Macrodosing involves the consumption of substantial doses to induce intense experiences and gain profound insights, often pursued for recreational or spiritual purposes. Conversely, microdosing entails taking small sub-perceptual doses to enhance day-to-day functioning, mood, and creativity.

Each approach offers its unique benefits and considerations, and the choice between macrodosing and microdosing psychedelics depends on individual preferences, goals, and the specific context in which they are used. It is crucial to approach the use of psychedelics with caution, responsible decision-making, and a thorough awareness of the potential risks and benefits involved.


  1. Is macrodosing legal?

    The legality of macrodosing varies depending on the specific psychedelic substance and the jurisdiction in which you reside. It is crucial to conduct thorough research and gain a comprehensive understanding of the legal regulations concerning psychedelics in your location.

  2. Can microdosing be used for recreational purposes?

    Microdosing is generally not sought for recreational purposes due to its subtle effects, which are not intended to induce intense psychedelic experiences. Instead, it is more commonly employed for cognitive enhancement and promoting overall well-being.

  3. Are there any risks associated with macrodosing?

    Engaging in macrodosing comes with inherent risks, particularly for individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions. The intensity of its effects and altered states of consciousness can be overwhelming for some, possibly leading to challenging experiences. It is essential to approach macrodosing with caution and ensure a supportive environment to mitigate potential risks and enhance the overall experience.

  4. Can microdosing enhance creativity?

    Microdosing has been found to foster enhanced creativity in certain individuals. Through subtle alterations in perception and cognition, it may pave the way for new connections and perspectives, ultimately resulting in an upsurge of creative thinking.

  5. How long do the effects of macrodosing last?

    The duration of macrodosing effects may differ based on the specific substance and dosage used. In general, these effects can last anywhere from 6 to 12 hours, with the possibility of residual effects extending beyond that timeframe.

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The Plant Magic Collective is a Plant Medicine Resource Center in downtown Denver, Colorado that houses a 501(c)3 education center: Denver HeartQuarters, a multi-sacrament church, the Dose Denver Microdose Club and Plant Magic Cafe. A pioneering organization committed to legitimizing plant medicine through education, therapy, and ceremonial experiences, Plant Magic Collective celebrates merging scientific and mystical knowledge in service of holistic well-being, and is rooted in principles of unity, public education, and responsible use. With a mission to advocate for entheogens as sacraments and medicines, they aim to provide accessible resources and community spaces to foster a culture of belonging.

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